Same Content, Different Rating

aka: Rated W For Why
So the latest entry in your favorite series has just come out. But what's this? "Rated M for Mature?" "Parents Strongly Cautioned?" "Not for children under 17?" What's all this nonsense? The last work in the series, the one before it and all of its predecessors have been perfectly family-friendly. Sure, there might have been a little violence, an odd bit of innuendo that flew over your head 20 years ago that makes you chuckle looking back or a joke or two that pushed the boundaries of what would today be considered good taste, but certainly things haven't changed that much, have they? Has the franchise taken an unexpected turn for the Darker and Edgier while you weren't looking?

You pop in the disc (or crack the cover) and find, surprise surprise, that the series hasn't really changed at all. What's changed is how its content is seen. Something that might have been perfectly innocuous and acceptable 20 or 10 or even five years ago is now regarded as unspeakably heinous and instant grounds for a rating bump. Even if everything else in the series is all rainbows and unicorns.

This can be justified as ratings systems grow more robust over time, introducing more tiers of ratings and allowing for more accurate classification. More egregious cases can be chalked up to overzealous Media Watchdogs.

Contrast What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?, where something genuinely inappropriate for younger audiences is mistaken for being perfectly innocuous (often due to the Animation Age Ghetto). When this is invoked by the executives to generate new buzz in an old line, the affected installment has been Rated M for Money.

Note that this trope does not apply to series whose content has genuinely become Darker and Edgier. For those that do so which are or become dramas, see Cerebus Syndrome. For those which become or stay as comedies, those are Tone Shifts towards Black Comedy.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • School Rumble consistently received ratings of TV-PG to TV-14 on YouTube, up until the ninth episode of Second Semester. From that point on, the ratings were bumped up to TV-MA... with hardly any change at all in the romantic comedy formula. Granted, the first episode of the second season has a surprising amount of violence, even if it was All Just a Dream.
  • A single, comedic-toned filler episode of Naruto got a 16+ rating for the Hungarian broadcast. It may have been because of one use of the S-word, though since the word is used very often in other, more serious episodes (along with other instances of foul language), one has to wonder why they picked this one to be "too much" for the standard 12+ rating. Since the TV channel stopped using rating signs, this phenomenon ceased to be a problem. Now you don't know the rating for anything.
  • In Australia, the first volume (and, as a result, the later box set and complete collection) of Azumanga Daioh were rated MA15+ while the rest of the series were rated G or PG. The reason is because of Kimura's joke about drinking the pool water and more specifically because child prodigy Chiyo-chan was present and the rating board decided it could be interpreted as being included. The rest of the series generally makes it clear that Chiyo-chan is not one of Kimura's targets, hence the lower ratings... though let's face it, a pedophile teacher being acceptable in an otherwise family friendly show is one of those things you just have to go with when viewing works from Japan.
  • Ah! My Goddess gets this in two ways:
    • In America, when the manga was first released in flipped left-to-right format, it was rated for readers 8+. Its second release, in original right-to-left, was rated 13+. There were no substantive changes between the two beyond the flip (and maybe a few more references to Japanese culture); if anything, the original's language was a bit cruder.
    • The complete collection of the anime was released in 2010 in the UK with a '12' rating, however for some reason, the first individual DVD volume, released in mid-2011, gets a '15' rating.
  • Despite the "shonen romantic comedy" nature of the show, UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie has a TV-MA rating. However, Spain apparently aired on a kids network, to no problem, though.
  • Inversion: The first volume of Ghost Stories may have warranted a TV-PG rating by ADV Films; but the show continues to get more explicit while it continues with the same rating.
  • The Fate/stay night DVDs released by Sentai Filmworks were rated TV-14. This is rather surprising, considering that all other companies that released both the anime and the Unlimited Blade Works movie rated it as TV-MA (as both have pretty considerable amounts of blood, gore, and violence).
  • Subverted in a way by Central Park Media when they released the soft-core Fencer Of Minerva. The back of the DVD box was rated 16 and up. At least some of the DVDs when played would warn of explicit content and state that no one under 18 could watch it.
  • Sword Art Online's Australian release has a PG for all but the last volume, which is rated M for violence, despite the fact that there wasn't really any increase in violence in the final volume. Perhaps it refers to sexual violence, given that towards the end the main antagonist attempts to rape Asuna but fails. Aniplex just slaps the whole series on the North American release with a 13+.
  • Rurouni Kenshin's complete limited edition Australian release has an MA 15+ while the individual box sets are rated M. It might be the OVAs added onto the complete edition, but when you consider how gory the Kyoto arc was, the OVAs weren't really that much graphic.
  • Love Hina's special Love Hina Again got an M in New Zealand for sexual references while the rest of the series, including the spring and summer specials, was rated PG for low level violence and sexual references. Love Hina Again doesn't get any more graphic then the rest of the series does...
  • The remake of Mahou Sensei Negima! entitled Negima?! which was supposed to be closer to the manga got a TV-MA in America while the original series, rated TV-PG, had more fan service and suggestive scenes. New Zealand averts this by giving the original series an M and the remake a PG.
  • Appears to be the case with Funimation's re-releases of .hack//SIGN and .hack//Roots which had TV-Y7 during their initial broadcast runs. This could be an attempt to not scare off older viewers who might be spooked by a Y7.
  • Pretty Face and Is, when released in print by Viz Media, were rated "Older Teen (16+)" for some fanservice and sexual situations. In the digital rerelease, they're both rated "Mature (18+)", with no difference or uncensoring in content (the digital version of the latter still censors bare breasts as the print version did).
  • Gregory Horror Show received an 18A in Canada for its first season, and a PG for its second and third seasons. As to what in the show warranted an 18A, none of the ratings boards listed - though they gave the second/third seasons subadvisories for "not recommended for young children", even though the second and third seasons are on the same content level as the first (or maybe a bit stronger, considering we discover Gregory's secret love for dirty magazines and Nekozombie's highly traumatic past in these seasons).

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin in the Congo is usually considered Afrophobic by modern standards and has often been classified as for adults only because of this.
    • This isn't a totally straight example, though; the early Tintin books (this was only the second) were undisguised propaganda, and the author made an enormous effort to improve the series in later stories. He would later refer to Tintin in the Congo as "a mistake".

  • This trope is at the heart of the "Han Shot First" controversy surrounding the Star Wars Special Edition. The scene in Episode IV: A New Hope where Han shoots Greedo after being threatened by him flew under the censors' radar back in 1977, but would have bumped the rating up to PG-13 two decades later. So the scene was edited so that Greedo shot first, and thus the Internet Backlash was born. Especially hilarious because the film was almost rated "G" — yes, G — back in 1977. (This despite the fact that it features charred corpses, a bloody severed arm, multiple violent deaths, and a "heroic" character who starts out as a Jerkass smuggler.)
  • In Germany some films are refused ratings from the FSK which inevitably leads to them ending up on the Index which means they mustn't be advertised, can only be sold to persons 18 and up and can only be shown on TV with drastic edits. When 25 years have passed movies are removed from the Index and can be rated again by the FSK which then end up giving them ratings of 18 and sometimes even 16 (e.g. Predator in 2010).
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon received a rating of 16+ in Hungary, whilst it's considered to be anything from a PG-13 to G movie in the rest of the world. What makes this especially peculiar is that the dub even removed or toned down most of the original movie's foul language, making the rating decision seem even more unwarranted. Yet the far more obscene and about equally violent Revenge of the Fallen only got a 12+ (along with the original installment).
  • For a 2011 re-release in UK cinemas, Ghostbusters was passed 12A by the BBFC for "moderate sex references", up from the PG of its original 1984 release (five years before 12 was introduced). The film had still been released on DVD as PG as recently as 2009.
  • The 1999 British film The Big Tease received an R rating in the United States and the equivalent of a PG almost everywhere else (although it received a 15 in it's home country). Although the reason given is language, there are very few instances of profanity, leading some people to believe it was more harshly rated in the U.S. because the main character is very blatantly homosexual.
  • The original release of ET received a G rating in Australia. Because the 20th-anniversary re-release was edited (to remove guns), the film had to be re-submitted, and received a PG rating for "supernatural themes".
  • After Midnight Cowboy became the first and last X-rated filmnote  to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, it was rereleased with an R rating though no cuts were made.
  • In the UK, Forbidden Planet is rated PG note  on DVD, and rated 15 note  on Blu-ray. Maybe the monsters from the id are just scarier on the higher-definition format.
  • The famous 1939 film The Wizard of Oz has most recently been rated PG, despite being a G-rated film for decades. It's probably just the 3D version, though. Granted, the tornado and the Wicked Witch of the West are scary for many young children.
  • When American Pie first came out on VHS in the United States there was a lot of backlash about high school age kids not being able to watch a movie about high school students as it was given an R rating (for nudity and sexual content). Countries such as Canada who don't rate as strongly against nudity didn't have this problem.
  • In Argentina, Scarface (1983) was originally rated +18note , then, it was re-rated +16note  for the 1999 re-release and finally was re-rated +13/CRnote  for the 2012 re-release.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (an action-adventure film) and Scanners (a horror film) were both released in 1981, both feature Body Horror in the form of faces getting melted and/or heads exploding, and both received the 'FSK 16' rating in Germany. However, in the UK and Australia the former is rated 'PG' whilst the latter is rated '18'.
  • In 1997 in the UK, Touchstone Pictures released 2 films (Con Air and Starship Troopers) with '15' ratings for their cinema release. However, the BBFC felt that their decisions were too lenient and so they upgraded them to '18' for the video releases, where they remain to this day.
  • Scooby-Doo received a TV-G rating on Nickelodeon, despite being a hard PG-rated film for suggestive humor, scary moments, and action violence.
  • Titanic (1997)'s minimal content edits for TV were enough to bump the PG-13 film down to a TV-PG.
  • Cold Mountain is an R-rated film, but its television edits were enough to bump it down to a TV-PG.
  • The Quatermass Xperiment was an X certificate film when it was released in 1955, due to the horror of a human transforming into a Starfish Alien as the precursor to an invasion. By the time of the video release in 2003, it got a PG rating in the UK, possibly thanks to forty years of very similar material being aimed at kids.
  • Cherry Falls, a 2000 horror comedy, received a 15 rating from the BBFC when released in cinemas. Because the film was felt to sit at the upper end of the 15 rating and because there is a greater risk of underage viewing at home compared to at a cinema, the rating was upgraded to 18 in 2001 for it's VHS and DVD release.
  • City by the Sea, a 2002 crime drama starring Robert De Niro, was rated 15 by the BBFC for cinema release because, despite a scene showing two characters 'freebasing' (taking drugs in a non-salt form), the film had a strong anti-drugs message. However, the rating was upgraded to 18 for the video release after seeking expert advice, which told the BBFC that the scene, if viewed repeatedly at home, could provide instructive details about drug use.
  • In the UK, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was originally rated X (16+) in 1962 with cuts (to remove the sight of Jane kicking Blanche reduced to one kick and Elvira witnessing Blanche tied up in bed). The film was given an 18 rating, uncut, in 1988 before being severely reduced to a 12 rating (again uncut) in 2004.
  • Many older films in the UK get their ratings reduced from 18 to 15 as a result of drastic changes in the violence guidelines since the 1980's and 1990's, when the BBFC were notorious for being overly strict. This list includes The Godfather , Full Metal Jacket , Die Hard, Alien (director's cut), The Shining, Night of the Living Dead (1968), American History X and The Terminator.
  • In Ireland, cinema releases and video releases have separate ratings systems.
    • The video system is the same as in the UK (U, PG, 12, 15, 18).
    • The cinema system is the same as the UK up to 12A. Afterwards, 15 and 18 are split into 15A, 16 and 18, which means that a film which gets a 16 for cinema can get either a 15 or an 18 on video.
  • The ratings for the Hammer Studios Dracula films are all over the place for no discernible reason. Incredibly, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, which features Dracula being messily impaled causing blood to gush from his mouth and eyes, was rated G, which has never been updated. The very next film, which features a similar level of violence along with some nudity, was originally rated GP (a precursor to PG) but was upgraded to an R in 2004, while Dracula A.D. 1972 has kept its PG despite opening with yet another very nasty impalement scene. The fact that these films are all sold together in a DVD set along with the unrated Horror of Dracula makes it even more noticeable because there are four different MPAA symbols on the packaging.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West features about the same amount of violence and mature themes as Sergio Leone's previous westerns, but it got an M (a precursor to PG) whereas the others all got Rs. In 2003 it was updated to a PG-13.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the U.S., many PG-13 films receive the TV-14 rating when aired on TV, even though they've been edited for content. Even stranger, when Napoleon Dynamite airs on MTV, it receives a TV-14 rating, despite the movie having a PG rating on video and containing little if any objectionable content.
  • The Sesame Street: Old School DVD collection is shrinkwrapped with a "Not for Children" sticker on the packaging. It appears that what was considered perfectly suitable for preschoolers 40 years ago isn't acceptable now, mostly due to an increased sensitivity to Nightmare Fuel.
    • That's less "no longer appropriate for kids" in terms of content appropriateness, but because Science Marches On and standards of education have changed. To be exact, it advises that the older episodes "may not meet your child's educational needs." Tough Pigs, a Muppet fansite, elaborates:
      The disclaimer doesn’t say, "Do not under any circumstances let kids see this stuff because it’s bad for them." It just says it "may not suit the needs of today’s pre-school children." Now, if you had watched these DVDs, you’d know that the first episode includes a slow-moving, seven-minute segment on milking cows with droning, repetitious narration. Does that sound like the kind of thing today’s kids would sit still for?
      There’s also a film sequence about unsupervised children playing in a construction site. We could debate whether or not watching that is suitable for impressionable children, but can you blame Sesame Workshop for covering themselves by putting a disclaimer in front of something like that?
    • In terms of actual inappropriate content, the biggest issue seems to be smoking—specifically, scenes of Cookie Monster introducing "Monsterpiece Theater" while "smoking" a bubble pipe.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Inversion: The content of the episode "Genesis of the Daleks" deserves a TV-PG rating. An Omnibus airing on BBC America aired with a TV-G rating. Considering the dark themes of the episode, either the airing was censored, or the censors were drunk. Proof here.
    • More generally it seems to be completely random whether the home video releases of 1963-89 stories got a U or a PG rating. There are U rated stories which fans will tell you have much more horrific content than many stories that got PG. Over the years, there does seem to have been a trend to more restrictive rating.
  • The UK and Republic of Ireland have very similar ratings systems, and video releases usually get the same or equivalent ratings in both countries. There are of course exceptions, for example Season One of Stargate SG-1:
    • Disc 1: 18 in the UK, 15 in Ireland.
    • Disc 2: 12 in both countries.
    • Disc 3: 12 in the UK, 15 in Ireland.
    • Discs 4 & 5: PG in both countries.

    Video Games 
  • It's worth noting that some (though not all) of the E-to-E10+ examples listed here are due to the game's volume level - video games with generally chaotic and noisy atmospheres are generally slapped with the higher rating as a precaution in case the end product is too intense for younger players (even if there's nothing else in the game that would call for such a bump).
  • Fire Emblem Tellius: Path of Radiance was slapped with a T rating, despite only being slightly more dark/violent than the GBA games. (Granted, it does feature a husband unwittingly killing his own wife while Brainwashed and Crazy, but that's as dark as it gets, and that's only a flashback) This was probably due to the more realistic graphics in battles. Its sequel, Radiant Dawn, was considerably darker, so its rating was more understandable. Still, the DS games recieved the same rating as the GBA ones, so it was probably the graphics.
    • Radiant Dawn is an inversion of this trope, being rated E10+ despite actually being darker than its big brother.
  • The original Super Smash Bros.. for Nintendo 64 was rated E. Its sequels, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, are both rated T, despite having the same level of violence as the original (no blood, no gore, just characters getting smacked around and sent flying). However, some of the sound effects in the first game were replaced with more cartoony ones when the game was released outside of Japan. The higher rating was due to the fact that the graphics of Melee/Brawl were more realistic than the original. For the fourth game, the rating drops to E10+ (some people hypothesize that Melee would have gotten E10+ as well, had that rating existed at the time).
  • The DK Rap originated in Donkey Kong 64, with a line about Chunky Kong declaring, "He may move slow; he can't jump high / But this Kong's one hell of a guy!" The game is rated E (in England, where Rareware, the producers of DK 64, is located, "hell" is considered appropriate at the U rating) In Melee, this line had the minor alteration from "hell of a guy" to "heck of a guy", presumably to clean up the language to be suitable for all audiences, and in response to angry parents who complained to Nintendo about use of the word "hell". Melee is rated T; a single instance of the word "hell" would be well within the bounds of the T rating. And when Donkey Kong 64 was released on the Wii U Virtual Console, it stayed rated E despite the lyrics being unchanged.
  • Every game in the Digimon franchise to come out in Europe was rated 3+, with the exception of the last two: Digimon Rumble Arena 2 and Digimon World 4 both got a ratings bump to 12+ and a symbol on the back of the box citing violent content as the primary cause. It's speculated that the games didn't sell as well as previous games because of this.
  • On a higher maturity level, the original Manhunt was rated M. The second game in the series had to have cuts to keep it M and not AO, but what information has leaked about those cuts indicates that they were all things present in the first game.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn was rated G8+ (for general audiences 8 and up) on original release in Australia, but when it became widely known and re released it was bumped up to MA15+ without any changes in gameplay at all. Should be noted that the original features a man being executed right in front of you (among other things rendered in Full Motion Video), infantry being crushed by tanks with an audible "SQUELCH" as a gameplay mechanic, and very graphic deaths for units killed by fire.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Europe, the series has a 7+ rating, except for Trials & Tribulations, which gets 12+.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies is rated "M" (17+) but doesn't really feature anything out of the ordinary for the series. There are gruesome murder scenes and twisted villains, yes, but considering the series was never shy about depicting such things earlier, the whole thing can likely be chalked up to the Video Game 3D Leap. The bump in rating could also be linked to the courtroom bombing, whose scene shows a fairly intense moment of people desperately trying to escape before the room explodes and another scene near the game's end shows a young Athena covered in her mother's blood; most content has their content ratings spike if children and disturbing scenes are mixed together.
  • Narrowly averted by Mario Kart 7 - while the final cut is given an ESRB rating of E like the rest of the series, pre-release trailers show that it was originally prepped to have an E10+ despite the sole content descriptor being "Comic Mischief".
  • In Europe, Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 5 (a.k.a. Dance Dance Revolution II in North America) was given a 3+ (equivalent to an ESRB E) by PEGI in most of Europe, except in the United Kingdom, where it was given a 16+ rating for "Violence". The culprit was a brief scene in one of the music videos which involved someone getting punched in the face.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirbys Return To Dreamland, also known as Kirby Wii, is the first game in the series to have an E10+ rating, but it's hardly more violent than any other game in the series. The Japanese version averted this by having it rated A, which is the E rating for Japan. This would mean that either the Japanese or the Americans are missing something with this game.
    • Kirby's Dream Land 3 is rated E despite featuring Zero as a final boss, who gorily rips out his own iris. He proceeds to use his own blood as projectiles, too. Upon the release of Kirby's Dream Collection, the ESRB finally caught onto this and gave it an E10+ rating for "Animated Blood".
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess got a T rating despite being only marginally more violent than the E-rated Ocarina of Time. Sure, there's more blood, but this time around, it's exclusively Alien Blood.
    • Ocarina of Time: E. Ocarina of Time 3D: E10+. Violent or sexual content that changed: Almost nil. If anything, there's less sexual content; the perpetually nude female character, Ruto, was updated to look more like she's wearing something, and the Ambiguously Gay carpenters had one of their lines altered to make it sound less like they were hitting on Link. The updated graphics might have had something to do with it (making it seem more "real"), but it's anyone's guess. During the N64 era, the E10+ rating did not exist so this was likely the intended rating all along. In addition, Suggestive Themes was listed and involves the semi-nude Great Fairy.
    • Majora's Mask went from E to E10+ for its Nintendo 3DS remake.
    • The Wind Waker was rated E in its GCN version. The Wii U remake is rated E10+, but all original content remains intact. Again, this is due to the E10+ rating not existing when the game was first released.
    • Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword go into the halfway mark with an E10+ rating. The latter was rated M in Australia (M being the equivalent of ESRB's Teen).
  • Star Fox 64 had its E rating changed to E10+ for the 3DS rerelease.
  • The first White Knight Chronicles was rated 16 for "Violence" and "Drug Use". The sequel included the entire first game on the disc, but only came in at a 12 for "Violence" and "Bad Language".
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 had one pedophile villain. This was cited as the main reason to bump it up to M from the original Hyperdimension Neptunia's T. Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory no longer features him, and thus the game's rating is back to T despite the presence of a dominatrix goddess. Averted with Re;birth's 2 T rating despite the fact that said villian is just as much as a perv in the original and there is a CG depicting him licking Rom and Ram.
  • Inverted with The Ratchet & Clank Collection; Originally, the first three games were rated T, but their HD remakes for the PS3 are all marked with an E10+, putting them in line with the rest of the series. (The games were released before the E10+ rating was introduced, and the first one is actually the tamest one in the series.)
  • Sonic Adventure 2 was rated E when it was originally released. It was bumped up to an E10+ with the XBLA/PSN rerelease, but with the same content warnings. What's confusing is that the plot involves the murder of a terminally-ill twelve-year-old girl, but the content warning only mentions "cartoon violence" and "mild lyrics". And still no mention of Rouge's alternate multiplayer outfit.
  • The Streets of Rage series got MA-13 (Sega equivalent to the Teen rating) ratings for their initial release. Modern-day re-releases of them are E10+.
  • The Golden Axe series. They got MA-13 or MA-17 ratings originally, but modern-day re-releases are E10+ or T.
  • In the UK, the PS1 and PC versions of Metal Gear Solid got an 18+ rating. When the Gamecube remake came out, it got a 15+ rating, despite the violence being more intense in this version (for starters, we actually see Gray Fox killing the people in the hallway). Then when the PS1 version came to PlayStation Network, it still kept its 18+ rating.
  • The Space Channel 5 series received an A rating in Japan and 3+ in Europe (both of which are those countries' equivalents to the E rating), while America gave it a T rating, because of Ulala dressing in skimpy, sexy outfits (as Classic Game Room put it, "Basically, she's half-naked throughout the whole game, which is good."). Apparently Japan and Europe don't have any problem with how girls dress, while America flips their shit about it. However, in the E10+ rated Sega Superstars series, Ulala appears in all of the games, and the ESRB even acknowledges it (although they don't refer to her by name).
  • Atelier Totori Plus garnered attention shortly before its release outside Japan by receiving the highest rating in Australia possible (R18+) without getting banned entirely. Averted in other regions. Especially ridiculous considering the PS3 version released only two years prior with a very tame PG rating.
  • Fighting Vipers and Virtua Fighter 2 were rated T for their original Saturn releases. Their 2012 re-releases bumped them down to an E10+ rating.
  • Street Fighter IV was rated T on its console, PC, and 3DS versions. Its iOS versions were rated 9+ (which is the Apple equivalent to the E10+ rating).
  • Guilty Gear XX Accent Core + got an M rating despite all the previous games in the series getting a T. This one is particularly notable in that Accent Core + actually removed most of the blood in the game compared to previous entries, the only exception being Testament.
  • EarthBound received a K-A rating when it was first released. However, for its Australian release it was slapped with an M rating, the equivalent of the ESRB'S T or PEGI's 12+, for "crude humour and sexual references", even though the game contains an Eldritch Abomination final boss babbling about how much "it hurts" as you're trying to kill it. It seems like the US has caught up to this as well, as the rating was bumped to T for the long-awaited Wii U Virtual Console release. The blood visible on the Mondo Mole/Guardian Digger and Plague Rat of Doom's sprites appear to be the primary culprit. Oddly, the ESRB had earlier rated a prospective Wii VC release E.
  • Persona 3 FES was rated M in Australia, but Persona 3 Portable was rated MA (equivalent of M, and a restricted category).
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is more or less identical in content to the previous three games in the series, but was bumped up to an E10+ in America for seemingly no reason other than the Video Game 3D Leap. For the record, it is rated 3+ in Europe, the same as the rest of the series.
  • Pikmin 3 got a bump up in the US and in Europe, from the last game's E/3+ to E10+/7+ respectively. It's barely different from its two predecessors, other than a slightly darker plot, and even has the same ESRB content descriptor of Mild Cartoon Violence.
  • Inverted in the case of Portal 2, which was noticeably darker than the previous game in the series (which wasn't all that sunny to begin with) and yet actually received a lower ESRB rating than its predecessor - Portal 1 is rated T, 2 got an E10+. The only reason the ESRB rated this one lower was because this one didn't have blood, while the blood in the first game was the only factor that resulted in the ESRB giving it a higher rating.
  • Limbo was originally given an 18 rating in Europe when it was released on the PS3, 360 and PC. However, when it was released on the Playstation Vita, it only got a 16 rating, while the aforementioned versions remain 18-rated.
  • Sonic Lost World got an E10+ rating for "Mild Cartoon Violence", even though the content is no different than its predecessor, the E-rated Sonic Colors, which got an E rating for the same reason.

    Western Animation 
  • The Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series from volume three to its last one (volume six) contained a "Recommended for mature cartoon collectors" rating, as a lot of the cartoons they started putting on the sets contained a lot of cartoons that had content considered too racist, sexist, or outdated by today's standards, but are going to be shown uncut for two reasons: 1. The classic cartoon fans would be pissed if anything was edited for content on DVD, and 2. Editing out the offensive content is considered worse than showing it in the first place (at least with it shown, people can see why today's audience would want the content of the past suppressed) and are meant as more of a look at society and entertainment back in the 1930s to the 1960s rather than entertainment.
  • The first run of South Park episodes on SBS in Australia were rated PG (Parental Guidance Recommended) but when the same episodes were shown later, after the series became the cult classic it is today, they were rated M and less frequently MA 15+. Over in America, South Park outside of its 10:00pm showings carries a TV-14 rating, though not because changing times have rendered the more subversive scenes harmless. It's more because the episodes are edited for content in reruns and, in America, the FCC doesn't allow raunchy content until after 10:00pm on free-to-air TV (and even then, stuff like nudity, explicit language, sex, and Saw-level gore has to be curbed, according to Standards and Practices). In the case of cable channels, it depends on what the target demographic of the cable channel is or if advertisers want to err on the cautious side.
  • Family Guy:
    • In Hungary, the series went from an initial rating of 16+ to 12+, and being aired early in the afternoon, then right back to 16+ with a strict night-only time slot. The abundance of uncensored swear words in the dubbing may have had something to do with it (besides the original content, of course). Strangely, the even more vulgar dub of King of the Hill note  didn't get pushed back; they instead gave it an earlier afternoon air-time, with reruns being shown early in the morning, and the TV station doesn't supply any information on the rating. This might be because the channel it airs on (Viasat6) is broadcast from England, so the ratings don't have to conform to Hungarian policies — it could even be that the people in charge didn't even realize that the dub contained such crude language. Nevertheless, the swearing was abandoned in the second half of the series, possibly as a response to this.
    • Several episodes have been rated TV-MA when aired on [adult swim], including "I Take Thee Quagmire" (for the scene of Joan threatening to kill herself if Quagmire divorces her and the subplot about Lois' breasts), "The Father, the Son and the Holy Fonz" (for its take on religion, particularly Stewie's line after seeing Francis put a crucifix in the kitchen "Nothing says 'Eat up' like a skinny Jew nailed to a piece of wood," which was cut on FOX for being blasphemous), "Peter's Two Dads" (for the subplot of Stewie being a masochist and the short scene of Peter turning to crack to get over his alcoholism), and "Family Gay" (due to its crude sexual humor, centering on homosexuality). They have since been re-rated TV-14.
  • Watership Down in Germany is rated 6+ (meaning that the content is appropriate for children ages six and up). Elsewhere, it's all-ages, even though the content says otherwise.
  • Madagascar got a G rating on Brazilian theaters, but the DVD has a 12 rating for a scene of legal drug consumption.
  • When Sponge Bob Squarepants premiered on Nickelodeon in 1999, the rating for the series was TV-Y (Like most other Nicktoons). Towards the end of 2006, the show was bumped up to a TV-Y7.
    • The same thing happened with The Fairly Oddparents on the same channel. It premiered in 2001 with a TV-Y rating, and then went up to a TV-Y7 around the same time Spongebob did.
  • KaBlam! also went from a TV-Y to a Y7 like the previous two mentioned, but it didn't take as long as the other two. The show premiered in 1996 without a rating (as the television ratings were not put into use yet), and when the television ratings were introduced in 1997, it was given a TV-Y. When the second season premiered in October of the same year, it went up to a Y7, and even had a content warning at the beginning until 1998 due to it being one of the very few Nick shows at the time with a Y7 rating (Not counting the shows which would be TV-Y or TV-G and then go up a rating for reruns).
  • Futurama, originally a TV-PG on FOX (the only TV-14-rated episodes that aired on FOX was "A Tale of Two Santas" and "Spanish Fry"; the former due to violence, the latter due to sex and sexually-suggestive dialogue and situations), was rated TV-14 when rerun on Comedy Central and on local station affiliates in America.
    • In the UK, Futurama is usually given a PG or 12 rating, depending on content (mostly the sex, violence, foul language, and Bender's criminal behavior is the deciding factor on which direction the ratings scale will tip), but the episode "Leela's Homeworld" (where Leela finds out that she's a mutant who was sent to live on the surface and that her parents are alive) was given a U rating, despite no edits made to the content (and it did have some risque parts in it, like Fry and Leela's conversation about spankings and Leela freaking out over the mutants allegedly killing her parents and getting ready to shoot them).
  • Time Squad carried a TV-Y7 rating back when it aired on television (and knew how to stretch it, getting away with a lot of dubious content that, these days, wouldn't be uncommon in one of the daytime TV-PG programs, like Adventure Time and Regular Show...or would be more at home on [adult swim]). When Cartoon Network showed episodes of the show online (and clips of the show) for their 20th anniversary in October 2012, the clips were finally given the rating most people in the show's Periphery Demographic thought it deserved in the first place (TV-PG).
  • When Recess first premiered, it was TV-Y (suitable for young children. These days, this rating is only used for TV shows made for preschoolers, like Nick Jr.'s line-up and most of PBS's kids shows). When the show began reruns on Toon Disney, the rating was changed to TV-G, though Disney Channel still showed it with a TV-Y rating. Disney XD switched back to TV-Y when they aired repeats for a week in October 2011 (despite airing the show as TV-G when it was in regular reruns from 2009-2010).
  • When Tarzan aired on The Wonderful World of Disney on ABC, it was rated TV-PG instead of the G rating it had carried in theaters and on video (mostly for innuendo and action violence). This is partly because, despite the similar terminology, the theatrical and home video ratings are dictated by the MPAA, while the TV ratings are dictated by the FCC — or more accurately, by the network with the caveat that the FCC can fine every station that airs the feed if they decide the rating applied is too lenient. Their actual guidelines have never been published, so broadcasters tend to err on the side of caution.
  • The Simpsons episode "Weekend at Burnsie's" (from season 13) was rated TV-14 for drug use/drug humornote  and some bloody violencenote  when it premiered. In syndication, it has a TV-PG rating for violence (V) and suggestive dialogue (D).
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo? was originally rated TV-G. In repeats (especially on Cartoon Network), it's TV-Y7-FV, despite no changes to the content.

Alternative Title(s):

Rated R For Why, Rated W For Why